The Reading: Joel 2:24-29
“I will restore to you the years …” (v.25) RSV
Many people are dogged by regrets when they consider their past life. Either someone else has robbed them of their best years or they themselves, through fear or idleness, or excess have wasted those years.
Such regrets can be very debilitating and can produce cynicism or loss of energy: why bother? And yet, the nature of our glorious gospel and the nature of our God who inspires the gospel is one of a future filled with hope.
In our passage today we find that God (through the prophet Joel) has been addressing various categories of people who have reason to regret their past. First there is the “aged men” (1:2), and secondly “you drunkards” (1:5), then there are disappointed brides (1:8), and then struggling farmers (1:11). The ‘robber’ in the lives of all these people is illustrated by the “locusts” (1:4, 2:25). These creatures have eaten away all their past hopes and efforts. The result was dissatisfaction and frustration.
May be we can identify with such sentiments. Have we made wrong decisions and missed out on opportunities? Have others overruled our lives? Did we fail exams or get pipped at the post in a job application? Were we tied to our parents or jilted at the altar? God knows!
Over the next weeks we shall consider the hope that God wants to bring us. The years that “the swarming locust has eaten” (v.25) will be restored to us. Of course we cannot get back the past, but the future can make up for what was lost. The most transformative thing that God can, and will do, is to fill us with his Spirit. In our reading we have that great passage which St Peter quotes on the Day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh …” (v.28). Your Spirit-filled life will then enable God to open up new doors of opportunity. With God there is always a future and a hope.
Lord, I am sorry for my past. I long for better things. Fill me anew with your Spirit, and fill me with hope. Amen.
1 What devastation do locusts do?
2 Where else does God promise a future and a hope?